Recent legislation enactments by CUSG’s Legislative Council are upsetting students and having them fight to make their voices heard by the student government.
“Ain’t no power like the power of the students ‘cause the power of the students don’t stop,” echoed off the walls of the Glenn Miller ballroom as CU student group members and other affiliates marched in for the CUSG Legislative Council meeting Thursday night.
Legislative Council met to discuss and vote on four bills: the Student Group Funding Bylaws Bill, the ITP Responsibility Act, the Rec Center Renovation Bill and a Bill to Implement Waiveable Referenda Fee for Student Groups. Members of the board presented each bill.
In reaction to these bills, dozens of students and supporters of student groups spoke during open hearing. It was the biggest turnout the meeting has seen yet.
Abigail Anderson, a 21-year-old senior sociology major, said she spoke against the Student Group Funding Bylaws Bill, which would eliminate the ability to use student fee money to hire professional staff for student groups.
“It really only affects one student group, which is [Colorado Public Interest and Research Group],” Anderson said. “But this is a group that sorely needs funding and does a lot of great work for this community.”
Rep. Gabriel Schreiber authored and presented the bill, which was passed by council by the end of the five hour-long meeting.
Lisa Ritland, community organizer for CoPIRG, said she was directly affected by the bill’s passing and now risks losing her job.
“Before proposing this bill, no one ever came to CoPIRG to do further research,” Ritland said. “There was no open dialog between us and CUSG. The council needs to practice more transparency and open government.”
Anderson said CoPIRG will be less successful without Ritland’s help.
“We have the drive and the commitments and the organization to achieve political and community goals,” Anderson said. “What we need is a professional staff to guide us.”
The most controversial bill passed at the meeting, the ITP Responsibility Act, reduced student fees directed toward the Interactive Theatre Project by 46 percent, equaling a $4 student fee cut per student.
The bill overrides a previous bill put in place as a five-year funding plan for ITP, which required the group to raise $5 million in funds within five years of the bill’s passing.
Gary Chadwick, former assistant vice chancellor for health and wellness and director of Wardenburg said he opposed the bill.
“I think it reneges on the spirit of the original bill which is predicated on whether or not there’s fundraisers that can work full-time,” Chadwick said. “Running the program is a full-time job.”
Chadwick said that at the time the original bill was passed the economy was much stronger, fundraising was a lot easier and ITP was going to have a hired fundraiser working full-time; however, none of these things happened.
“It’s not a linear process,” Chadwick said. “There’s lots of things changing and I personally think they took the bill, misinterpreted it and made assumptions. I feel like it was yellow legislation.”
Co-senator for the School of Architecture and Planning, Isra Chaker, a 20-year-old junior architecture major, said she thought the student body was ignored, especially those who supported the ITP.
“I feel like the student body is being ignored,” Chaker said. “We had hundreds of people in that room.”
Chaker said she was shocked to see both the ITP Responsibility Act and the Student Group Funding Bylaws Bill pass.
“I believe CUSG is setting a dangerous precedent for upcoming legislative decisions,” Chaker said.
Executive Director of Student Affairs and supervisor of ITP, Gardiner Tucker, said he was disappointed that the ITP Responsibility Act passed into legislation.
“I feel that CUSG had an opportunity to work with one of their departments and say we are really enthusiastic and we want to help you on the financial side to work together to make sure that the next three years you get more support,” Tucker said. “So when that didn’t happen, I was disappointed in them. I thought that they didn’t do the best work.”
Tucker said now that the bill has been passed CUSG should step up during the next four months and help raise the $100,000 by June as requested in the bill to keep ITP running.
“I think together we can make something happen,” Tucker said. “But if they fail on it and don’t give it any effort after this then it’s going to be very hard for ITP to survive.”
Before the bill was passed into legislation, dozens of students lined up in front of the microphone and repeated the phrase “I support the use of student fees to fund ITP. You are my representatives. Please hear my voice.”
Tucker said he is proud of the student interest and support for the ITP.
“They’ve affected 25,000 students,” Tucker said “Those that are on campus still and some that were before, they’re the ones that organized the rally and spoke at the open mic.”
Co-Senator for the College of Arts and Sciences Gregory Carlson, a 21-year-old senior economics and mathematics double-major, said he spoke for the bill at the council meeting and said the decision was tough.
“It was a tough decision and I don’t think anybody on the board made it lightly,” Carlson said. “But believe that it is very important for us to get program costs to become sustainable.”
Carlson said it’s never an easy decision to scale a program back, but in the end the school must strive for sustainable costs and an affordable college education.
“Overall for the campus, it is the correct decision,” Carlson said. “I’m relieved that this is over.”
Chaker said she disagreed with Carlson.
“I don’t support what the council said about ITP,” Chaker said. “I feel like there were so many logical arguments and reasonings that were made against the bill that weren’t acknowledged.”
CUSG also voted on the Rec Center Renovation Bill and a Bill to Implement Waiveable Referenda Fee for Student Groups. Both were passed into legislation but did not cause the uproar that the other legislation did.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Carli Auran at Carli.email@example.com.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Audrey Hoffman-Lekmine at Audrey.hoffmanlekmine@Colorado.edu.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Elaine Cromie at Elaine.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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